The FSA’s plans to tighten customer complaint procedures for retail banks have been in the offing for a long time, and are certainly welcomed by the industry. Within such a competitive industry, these proposed changes to the guidelines have levelled the
playing field, forcing retail bank managers across the industry to try to resolve all complaints within 48 hours. If they fail to do so, they have to report the complaint to the FSA.
While some commentators may consider the new guidelines unduly draconian, the truth is that the world is simply faster paced now than it was 10 years ago, and certainly faster than it was the last time such guidelines were reviewed. Consumers carry a world
of information in their pocket and can communicate instantly across the globe with mobile-connected devices, but with this wider connectivity to customer services, expectations for instant access and response to queries have increased. The old ‘we will endeavour
to respond to your query within 5 working days’ approach is no longer good enough. However, in the back office environment where the complaints are often dealt with, it can still take just as long to read a report, examine a call log or write an email. This
calls for new ways of working.
Many of the financial institutions that I work with are looking to re-focus the front office/back office/contact centre division, and institute a more fluid structure, where some staff are cross trained to both interact with the public and investigate complaints
themselves – seeing them through from receipt to resolution. These emergent ‘middle office’ workers will require a shift in the training focus and practices and the right workforce structure to balance the front office demands with wider back office activities.
To make this multi-skilled ‘middle-office’ workforce both effective and affordable, it requires a great deal of organisation and exceptional visibility of operations for the management team. For most banks, this is beyond the scope of management’s time and
capacity, as hundreds of people are involved in this type of work. In particular, tracking productivity and through-put for each individual is a tough job to manage!
The good news is that a combination of existing workforce management and desktop analytics technology can be implemented to help managers wrangling with the new-found complexities of the so called ‘middle-office’. Implemented creatively, and used in the
right way, it can allow managers to have complete visibility over the volume and nature of inbound complaints, while helping them to plan activity for staff and make sure that each employee has sufficient time to tackle their workload. In addition, each inbound
complaint can be tracked and planned for in the department’s service schedule, so they can ensure every query is resolved and meet stricter deadlines. Finally, analytics and regular updates can help managers stay updated on overall team progression, flagging
any challenges as they arise. That makes the brave new world of the middle-office a great deal easier to get to grips with to comply with the FSA’s guidelines.